Tuesday, 14 December 2010

World of Glory (1991) by Roy Andersson....

'After opening with naked people being herded into a truck to be gassed, director Roy Andersson then enters the dull world of a Swedish real estate broker, telling the man's story in short, static blackouts. An attempt "to show the spirit of the times," this early 1990s short takes on everything from the high cost of housing to corporate logos on athletes.' (James A. Stewart).

Although this isn't an animation, i took out a DVD of European short films from the library. I absolutely love the cinematography and acting in this film, making you feel really awkward and creating an surreal mood. Often the actors look directly act you through the lens and the protagonist's lack of emotion and feelings really works in this piece. The soundtrack accompanied the visuals and editing perfectly, whilst the beginning shot was a brilliantly deep and emotional reconstruction of scenes from the war. Overall, is a brilliant piece of cinema that does everything right. Unfortunately this embedded video is only 9 minutes, when the actual film is 14 minutes, but it gives you a good idea of how well this film works.

Red Riding Hood Doodle...

Here's some more doodles ive done today, which has clearly been influenced by my idea of adapting red riding hood for the transcription unit.

Transcription... Red Riding Hood Idea...

Based on the original Red Riding Hood stories, i had the idea of creating a dark animated version of the story. In particular, i imagine a colour palette that only uses strong red along with black and white or greyscale tones. This idea worked really well in Sin City. Here are some images i have found based on the darker versions of Red Riding Hood. I feel it could be an interesting story to adapt, especially with the version involving cannibalism, and undertoning sexual references.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Jabberwocky (1971) by Jan Svankmajer...

'Jan Svankmajer's animation, which begins with a reading of the Lewis Carroll poem, is "almost a textbook illustration of Freud," according to commentator Peter Haynes. Meant to "interact with a viewer's subconscious," it shows a surreal playroom where the toys come alive.' (James A. Stewart).

Jabberwocky, is a beautiful example of how visuals and audio can accompany each other so well. With its uncanny use of dolls and childrens' toys, Jabberwocky, is a weird and wonderful animation. I particularly loved the character Svankmajer gives to the toys, and how creepy they were. The cat made me jump everytime even though i knew it was coming, and the doll heads in a stove as well as small dolls penetrating through a bigger doll, made Jabberwocky a strange and surreal watch.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Little Otik by Jan Svankmajer (2000)...

'Updating a popular children's fable, leading Czech surrealist Jan Svankmajer's latest is a compelling and highly contemporary social satire. Inventively combining live action with characteristically macabre stop-motion animation' (Jason Wood, BBC Films).

I finally got to watch Little Otik yesterday, thanks to the recommendation of Alan and Ruben, and it certainly doesn't disappoint. Using the set that can be recognised in his 'Down in the Cellar' short, as well as some of the same actrs/characters, Little Otik is based on the filktale 'Otesanek' by K J Erben. This 2 hour long film begins with a poor couple who are both infertile unable to have a baby. One day the man pulls a tree root from the ground and sees a baby like figure in there, deciding to further enhance that idea by cutting the extra roots to make it more baby-like. From here-on-in, we switch between the story a little girl reads about Otesanek, almost playing the narrator, and the real life story of the couple which resembles the book.

It takes a little while for Little Otik to get into its stride, with the live action story in the beginning slightly dull and uninteresting. However, this could have been because of my expectations of Svankmajer's work and the fact that i just wanted to see his stop-motion animation in action. So when it finally came around, i wasn't disappointed. This film was really weird, surreal and scary throughout, but the best examples of this were in the stopmotion animation. Svankmajer does really well to bring the 'tree stump' to life as Little Otik causes mass destruction, eating everything and anything. In particular, the mouth of Little Otik was so scary and the paedophile gave me the creeps, again. The little was so strange and uncanny, reading about sexual dysfunctions, which i'm pretty sure isn't a normal thing for a young girl. Overall, Little Otik has an enticing story, uncanny characters, a baby-like tree stump and more masterclass examples of Svankmajer's stopmotion animation. So if that's not enough to make you want to watch it, i don't know what is.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Transcription... New Ideas...

So after the film on Tuesday Alan called me over for a chat. At first i was kind of bricking it, i didn't have a clue what he was gonna say to me, feeling like that nightmare where you turn up to school in just your underwear. But actually it was nothing of the sort, luckily. Instead, Alan gave me some really helpful ideas and material to investigate for the Transcription unit, in a bid to get me on the right path so i can begin to push forward. So here's the sources that i'm currently looking into thanks to Alan:

- Danse Macabre (Dance of the Dead) by Saint-Saens.
- The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe.
- The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe.

I've already started to look into the first two ideas and already i can see why Alan has suggested these. I should be able to apply my previous dark ideas from my previous research into these adaptations nicely. In particular, i love this idea of 'Dance of the Dead' which is probably my favourite idea at the moment. Getting my head down with a lot of research and pre-production work now, will definitely benefit me coming into the 10 weeks of the project.

FAO: Phil... Postmodernism Essay...

I keep refining my essay at the moment, and i've manged to get my essay down to 2288 words, but was wondering if this is ok or if i need to cut that down any further. I have taken out quite a lot of wording and content already though.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Transcription... Giger Inspired Environment/Sets idea...

I quite like this idea of adapting Giger's work, so i took a further look at the brief to see what examples of transcriptions i could put it into. In particular, if i was to go with this idea, i think Giger inspired environment/sets/cities for film would be the best category to put this into. I've looked at some more reference images from his work and environments and architecture are definitely some of his best work. I think building a few sets based on possibly an alien/machine race, could be extremely fascinating and interesting, allowing me to delve into some really creative designs based on Giger's work. Here are some particular interesting and possibly influencial pieces worth considering:

The tectures and monotones in pieces like this would be extremely interesting to bring into Maya and CG models.

This image really reminds me of Metropolis. This image was the one that sparked up ideas of a vast city, which could imply the heads in the buildings are gods, rulers of the city.

The structure of this building reminds me of cathedrals, which i think could be really intricately designed using this idea of bones. Imagine a cathedral based on Giger's work and designs, who wouldn't want to visit that place.

This reminds me of a scene with elders, of high importance, having a meeting.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Transcription Ideas... HR Giger Adaptation...

Just another idea I had today where I could adapt an animation based on some of Giger's work and images. I'm not too sure how this one would work, but it could be an interesting idea. I think it could be a series of surreal and expressionistic animations, or even some environments based on his work, maybe based around a particular giger-like character/monster/alien. Giger's work brought into 3D realms is surely an animator's dream.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Doodles... Bat Coathangers...

What's that you say? Bat Coathangers? why not...

Here's another quick doodle i did today. I randomly turned a coathanger, with hats on, into a bat-like creature...

FAO: Phil... Postmodernism Essay Structure...

Here's my structure for the postmodernism essay with a bit about what i've included and written for each section. Are you able to clarify what i should add/change in my structure as suggested in your comment about my question?


In the introduction i've tried to explain, using appropriate quotes, that Postmodernism is a difficult topic and one that isn't necessarily understood or accepted. I've then written about what i aim to tackle in the essay, elaborating on the question.

What is Hyperreality?

In this section i've tried to use appropriate quotes and examples to help the reader understand what hyperreality is. In this case i've used Jean Baudrillard and Umberto Eco's example of Disneyland to put hyperreality into a real life context to help the reader understand what the essay is tackling.

Plato’s cave relation to The Matrix:

This section shows how we can draw the ideas of hyppereality back to the work of Plato/Socrates. Comparing the example that Plato uses in his book, The Republic, to the film in question, The Matrix. I have also used quotes from the film that i feel match what Plato is describing in his book, elaborating on the connection.

Jean Baudrillard References in The Matrix:

In this section i move onto breaking The Matrix down into the three orders of Simulacra by Baudrillard, suggesting an example from each order that i believe can be found in the film. I then moved onto Baudrillard's story of the people living in the map version of their own world, whilst the real world deteriorates as a comparison the the story of the Matrix, suggesting that it isn't too disimilar from Baudrillard's example, especially considering they even quote him in the film.

Disney’s Celebration Town in comparison to The Matrix:

This final section uses a real world example, Celebration Town, to pose help argue the point that we are in fact caught up in the simulacrum, living in a real life Matrix. In this particular example you can compare the corporates behind Disney to the agents in the film, keeping the inhabitants in order and control through a system which has been constructed by themselves.


In my conclusion i summarise my research and conclude my side of the argument, again, posing the question, Are we victims of simulacrum, consumed by a real life Matrix? and asking the reader to really consider the question at hand based on the points shown.

The Night Before Christmas...

Just another video i've looked at to get my brain churning with ideas for this Transcription project.

Corpse Bride - Remains of the Day...

I could only embed the German version of the video for some reason, but here's another brilliant example of turning the dead into something fun and musical. It still keeps an eerie and creepy feeling because of the skeletons and dead characters, but the musical element, in particular the skeletons using each other as instruments, works really well in creating an overall fun and entertaining sequence. Again, this is something that i'm aiming to achieve amidst the depths of hell.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Postmodernism Essay Question...

It's been through a couple of changes, but here is my question for the postmodernism essay so far. Don't worry, i'm well into the essay, it's just had slight changes as i've delved further into my topic.

So here it is:

Are we victims of simulacrum, consumed by a real life 'Matrix'?

This Way Up (2008) by Adam Foulkes and Alan Smith...

The particular part of this animation that i'm interested in, even though it's all amazing, is the middle section in hell. This idea of an 'entertaining' hell is definitely what i wanted to do, something very musical and fun, but at the same time still poses the haunting nature of hell. I think it's very interesting that hell is dominated by reds, which is also a royal and regal colour used in theatre a lot.

Just Some Doodles...

Here are some of the doodles i've been doing. Most of them are quite dark and devil/hell related as this is something i'd like to do for the Transcription project. They're not really based on anything in particular, but i'm sure there are some underlying influences in there somewhere. I just posted them because i often do interesting doodles, and then they get thrown away or forgotten, when it's quite easy to just archve them on here... so that's what i did...

The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer (1984) by The Brothers Quay...

'Impressions of the work and creative philosophy of the Czech animator Jan Svankmajer... The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer, Prague's Alchemist of Film began life as an hour-long documentary for Channel 4's esoteric late-night film strand Visions about the work of the great Czech animator, filmmaker and card-carrying Surrealist artist. The programme was made up of extracts from Svankmajer's work interspersed with analysis from critics, art historians and Surrealists, linked by nine animated sequences by the Brothers Quay. These links were subsequently joined together and released to cinemas as a separate 14-minute short.' (Michael Brooke, BFI Screenonline).

This one's been on the back burner for a while and i've only just decided to watch it for the first time. Just the thought of mentioning the Brothers Quay and Jan Svankmajer in the same piece of work, for me anyway, is a heavenly one, although i'm not sure their pieces of work would be allowed passed the heavenly gates. The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer wasn't the easiest animation to understand, however, for the beatifully detailed and stylised environments and unique characters, it's definitely worth a watch. You may recognise some of the pieces from previous Svankmajer animations as well as the doll, which has a similar resemblance to one of the Brothers Quay's previous pieces of work. Straight away, you are able to spot an animation from the Brothers Quay, and this animation is no exception, integrating everything we have come to expect from them. Despite my lack of understanding of what was happening, The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer is worth watching for the wonderful characters and environments alone.

Here it is:

Transcription Ideas... Heaven or Hell?...


While walking down the street one day, John McCain is hit by a truck
and dies.

His soul arrives in Heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.

'Welcome to Heaven,' says St. Peter. 'Before you settle in, it seems
there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts,
you see, so we're not sure what to do with you.'

'No problem, just let me in,' says McCain. 'I've got the experience."

'Well, I'd like to, but I have orders from higher up. What we'll do is
have you spend one day in Hell and one in Heaven. Then you can choose
where to spend eternity.'

'Really, I've made up my mind. I'm supposed to be in Heaven,' he says.

'I'm sorry, Senator McCain, but we have our rules.'

And with that, St. Peter escorts the senator to the elevator, and he
goes down, down, down to Hell. The doors open and McCain finds himself
in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse,
and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians
who had worked with him.

Everyone is very happy and in evening dress. They run to greet him,
shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while
getting rich at the expense of the people.

They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviar,
and champagne.

Also present is the Devil, who really is a very friendly & nice guy
who has a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are having such a
good time that before John McCain realizes it, it is time to go.

Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator

The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens. St. Peter is
waiting for him and says. 'Now it's time to visit Heaven.'

So, 24 hours pass with the senator joining a group of contented souls
moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp, singing, and feeding
each other. They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the 24
hours have gone by and St. Peter returns.

'Well, then, you've spent a day in Hell and another in Heaven. Now
choose your eternity.'

The senator reflects for a minute, then he answers: 'Well, I would
never have said it before, I mean Heaven has been delightful, but I
think I would be better off in Hell.'

So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and McCain goes down, down,
down to Hell.

Now the doors of the elevator open. John McCain finds himself in the
middle of a barren, hot land covered with the stench of garbage,
pollutants, and radioactive waste.

He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and
putting it in black bags as more trash and pollution fall from above.

The Devil comes over and puts his arm around John's shoulder.

'I don't understand,' McCain stammers. 'Yesterday I was here and there
was a golf course and clubhouse. We ate lobster and caviar, drank
champagne, and danced, and we had a great time. Now there's just a
wasteland of death, and my friends look miserable. What happened?'

The Devil looks at him, smiles and says, 'Yesterday we were

Today you voted.
My idea for this story would be to take the senator and turn him into a theatre-loving politician, instead of the golf idea. I feel this allows for a more interesting scene in hell with the devil, maybe a musical, which is funny and upbeat, similar to the scenes you get in films like The Labyrinth or some of Tim Burton's work. In my head, i have a really fun and vivid idea of the devil as a showman, which is all a disguise of course, to get the character to choose hell over heaven. Once the character has left hell, we see it revert back to its devilish ways, knowing before the character that he should choose heaven, but also knowing that he will actually choose hell.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

New Postmodernism Essay Structure...

after realising that had too much to write about and finding that my word count is already higher than it should be, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, i've decided to remove a couple of things from my essay structure. I decided to remove the section about hyperreal food/tastes and also anything about Metaphysics as i don't feel that these are needed or add anything relevant to my essay. So here is the new and update version of my essay structure:

- INTRODUCTION (200 words)

- MAIN BODY (1600 words):


- CONCLUSION (200 words)

I still feel like one or two things might be changed or removed before my hand-in because of my word count being quite high. But i'll have to see how things go...

Down to the Cellar (1983) by Jan Svankmajer...

'one of the most expressive short films ever made, a barely animated anxiety attack about a small girl, an infinite cellar, and a potato bin.' (Michael Atkinson, Village Voice).

This was one of Ruben's suggestions, as well as The Little Otik, and i'm glad i took the time to watch this one because it was well worth it. Despite not being an animation all the way through, Down to the Cellar, takes Svankmajer's usual surreal and eerie work and puts it into a combined live action and stop motion. It had everything you wouldn't want to find down in a cellar and plays with the innocence of the little girl to make things even more creepy. We have a paedophile, a crazy lady making cakes from dirt, shoes behaving like animals and a black cat that chases after you, who i right frame of mind would dare to go down there, just for a sack of potatos. Definitely one of the most surreal and creepiest pieces of work i've seen yet, even by Svankmajer's standards.

Animations Still to Watch List...

The Little Otik by Jan Svankmajer:

'Updating a popular children's fable, leading Czech surrealist Jan Svankmajer's latest is a compelling and highly contemporary social satire. Inventively combining live action with characteristically macabre stop-motion animation, Svankmajer's fourth feature, after "Alice", "Faust", and "Conspirators of Pleasure", may also be his best.' (Jason Wood, BBC Movies).

One Night in City by Jan Balej:

'Intricate stop-motion animation is brought to bear on a trio of bleak, surreal parables in the dyspeptic horror toon "One Night in One City." Fastidiously, imaginatively detailed model work springs from the mind of 48-year-old animator Jan Balej. At the far deep end of the most adult pool, item is suitable for specialty fests, midnight sidebars, liberal-minded cablers and avant-garde DVD labels.' (Eddie Cockrell, Variety.com).

The Epic of Gilgamesh (1985) by The Brothers Quay...

'A self-contained, if rather obscure film which is nonetheless outstandingly skilled and imaginative. Loosely inspired by the Epic of Gilgamesh, the film transforms the story into a macabre tale told with grotesque models and a theatrical mise en scène in which savage, vindictive machines whirr, slice, decapitate and imprison the unwary. It has the cold articulation of malignancy and evil commonly associated with the horrific fantasies of children's stories and games.' (BFI Shorts Catalogue).

The Epic of Gilgamesh is another perfect example of the Quay Brother's brilliant ability to create unique and detailed environments and scenes. Despite being unable to fully understand everything that goes on in this animation, it is the beauty of the environment and puppets that makes this short animation so magical. I love the small details even in the mechanics of the wall, and the clown-like Gilgamesh and bird puppets are strikingly unique and memorable. The Epic of Gilgamesh is another masterclass example of surreal and eerie stop motion animation, by The Brothers quay, that is so wonderfully constructed and animated, that despite a lack of understanding for the narrative, the visual aesthetic and art direction drive the animation perfectly.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Food (1992) by Jan Svankmajer...

A New York Times review called the film "caustically witty but slight." It goes on to say that "Švankmajer conceived the film in the 1970's, when it seemed too risky a political allegory to be made. . . . it now seems too simple a statement about how people are devoured by mechanistic states and each other." Despite it's political background, Food stands out for me as a real masterclass, not only of Jan Svankmajer's claymation skills, but of animation in general. Not only am i a huge fan of his unique style, which you can tell from the amount animations i watch by him, but his amazing talent for narrative and clever little details. My favourite in this slightly dark and surreal set of claymations has to be Breakfast, which portrays the story of 'a man, who after eating breakfast, is transformed into an elaborate dumb-waiter-style breakfast dispenser - and the same fate befalls the man who obtains breakfast from him.' What i love about this animation is how fun it is, whilst still keeping with the strange and surreal mood that Svankmajer does so well. The other two claymations invole LUNCH, about two would-be diners end up eating everything within reach and DINNER, Portraits of various meals made up of human organs. Overall, Food is a fascinating piece of masterclass claymation that seems to roll all of Svankmajer's great pieces into one.

Cowboys (1991) by Phil Mulloy...

'The films of multi-award-winning animator Phil Mulloy are the antidote to all that is kitsch and sentimental in animation. Witty and acerbic fables, drawn in brush and ink, comment on human nature and contemporary values. Definitely not fr the squeamish or prudish, these films contain sex, violence, and scenes calculated to outrage hores!' What more is there to say that describes Phil Mulloy's work that isn't already on the back of the dvd. Cowboys is only one of several films in his 'EXTREME ANIMATION' dvd and the quote above just about somes up the 6 short animations in Cowboys. Each running at 3 minutes long, Phil Mulloy pays careful attention to the moral values and points that he is trying to make in each animation, stripping back the fancy visual artwork and showing the world for what he thinks of it. Even though i can't say i fully understood the underlying messages of each animation, i was able to get the basics of what he was suggesting as the animations despite all the sexualness and violence were very bold and powerful. Cowboys is definitely a unique set of short animations and i'm looking forward to watching his other ones on the dvd.

Here's a few of the short animations from Cowboys:

The Matrix Essay Structure...

- Introduction (200 words stating what, why and how).

Write about the specific question.

- Essay Body (1600 words):

- What is Modernism? (Understanding Modernism)
- How did Modernism influence Postmodernism? (Understanding Modernism)
- What is Postmodernism? (Understanding Postmodernism)
- What are Hyperreality and Metaphysics? (Understanding Hyperreality and Metaphysics)
- Plato's Cave comparison to The Matrix (Ancient Philosophical reference)
- Jean Baudrillard in The Matrix (Theorist Reference)
- Disney's 'Celebration' Town comparison to The Matrix (Modern day reference)
- International Flavours and Fragrances comparison to The Matrix (Modern day reference)

- Conclusion (200 words):